Sharing and seeking inspiration....

Today I am "linking up" with some of the fellow bloggers whose daily posts about their personal and professional lives often help me "keep calm and carry on!"

Here are my personal "Top 5" for this fine Friday!

After a difficult day in my classroom, I often do the following things to refresh and renew:

1.  Commiserate with my colleagues around the copier and try to inject humor as I retell the story of how thirty minutes before bus time I had to do a
"clean-up at Table 3" after one of my little guys was struck down by the tummy flu!  Plastic gloves and lemon-scented air freshner are tools of the trade!

2.  Take three deep calming breaths before pulling materials, packing my tote bag with papers to grade, and preparing my classroom for tomorrow....because according to the lyrics from the hit Broadway musical Annie "it's only a day away!"

3.  Head home by way of my favorite coffee shop for a Caramel Marvel!  It is often a much-needed and well-deserved shot of espresso that gives me a "second wind" for the evening ahead.

4.  Waddle through my neighborhood behind Brutus and Rose and smile at the car drivers passing by who shake their heads and wonder about "that poor lady who is being pulled into a row of bushes by two old hound dogs hot on the trail of an ever-elusive squirrel."

5.  Watch the last 30 minutes of Ellen and applaud her generous spirit. She always spotlights and rewards every day individuals and families who are really worthy.  Her willingness to "pay it forward" daily and closing show statement of "Be kind to one another!"  reminds me to do the same.

Here is a captioned photo sequence of my "Top 5" professional ideas and tips for the week!  I am a terrible photographer and not very good with my iPhone camera, so some of the pictures are blurry!

Brightly colored pens from Bic, swirly colored pencils from Rose Art, and
twirly-tipped markers from Crayola made tracing and decorating around our
five new Word Wall words that much better!  I found all supplies and the four-cup carousels on sale at WalMart!

Plastic tubs with locking tops from Dollar General are filled with different math games (thank you Amy Lemons at Step Into Second Grade and made available at my Teacher Table after students finish their morning seatwork.  They have the choice of working with a partner or by themselves to build fact fluency, word problem, or place value skills.  I switch out the Ziploc bags of learning activities every two weeks or so to keep things fresh and interesting!
Ziploc bags hold direction sheets, task cards, and game boards for activities designed to reinforce and review concepts that have already been taught during whole-group lessons.  Individual students or partners choose from the different tubs and find a quiet spot in our classroom to be "mathematical thinkers."  I walk the room at this time--listening in, giving help, and guiding behavior as needed.  This Math Station Rotation time allows me to differentiate instruction and re-visit our Common Core standards again and again.
Kimberly at First In Maine incorporates literature into all subject areas by using quality picture books and chapter books as "mentor texts" to model rich language, author's purpose, story elements, and teach a variety of  comprehension strategies.  I have used this method of instruction successfully in my classroom for many years and am currently incorporating the picture books of Patricia Polacco in my writing lessons to model personal narrative style and expanding vocabulary, and in my social skills lessons to teach tolerance. 
Immersing children in quality children's literature can help them not only become better reader and writers, but better people. Polacco's Mr. Lincoln's Way tackles the tough subject of racism and has a powerful message of the importance of respecting diversity.  Thank You, Mr. Falker shares her autobiographical story and how one teacher helped her overcome multiple learning disabilities to become the renowned artist and author she is today.  My Rotten, Red-Haired Brother addresses the issue of sibling rivalry and the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.  My extensive collection of Polacco's stories are proudly displayed on my "Teacher Favorites" shelf this month, and my students clamor to check them out for Read To Self or Read To Someone time!  Many cannot read them independently, but quietly retell themselves or their buddy the stories while taking a wonderous "picture

I keep a small yarn ball in a basket next to my rocking chair and try to take time at either the beginning or closing of the school day to toss it out to each student and ask them to share a "happy report" with the group.  We do this quickly and each child is limited to one telling sentence.  The person who catches the ball is the "spotlighted speaker" and the rest of the group is the "audience."   In addition to developing oral language, this activity reinforces listening skills while helping us learn more about each other and become a close-knit classroom family!  I often use the information learned to play "I Am Thinking Of A Second Grader" while we are waiting in the bus or cafeteria line. The group has great fun guessing who my clues are about! 
I also have a "Helping Spot" next to my desk ( a round plastic cutting board with a smiley face on it) that the children know they can come to share "not so happy" information with me privately.  They also wait behind it when they need help with their work.  Being accessible, slowing down, pushing the rigorous curriculum aside and taking the time to really LISTEN to your students daily communicates to them that you truly care about them.  
Whew!  My first "Five for Friday" turned into a very long list! Hope you enjoyed!
Best Regards,





  1. I was gearing up to do my first linky with Doodle Bugs too and saw your comment about a three week old blog! Our blogs were born right around the same time, so I had to come check you out and am glad I did:). Stepping into this blog land can be a bit intimidating and daunting because there are so many amazing things out there to look at you hardly know where to start. I appreciate finding a blog that only has a handful of post so far so I can tag along with you from the beginning. Looks like you are off to a good start! Keep it up! KinderCoaster

  2. Thanks for the shout out and Wow what a great line up of stuff. I am working hard to figure out how to get my kids to be way more independent. You may have inspired me enough to do some laminating and cutting this weekend. :)

    First in Maine